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September 01, 2006

Do You Really Need a Mobile Locker?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 9/01/2006 08:46:00 PM
Forbes recently posted an article about Mobile Lockers, which are supposedly places where mobile phone users can store their games and ringtones online. The companies offering these services include Navio, Oasys, FusionOne, and Verisign. This is a heavily funded space. Navio raised $25 million late last year. FusionOne has raised over $140 million - and probably more - since news of its last fund raising activities were from late 2000.

With phone memory getting cheaper by the day, I question whether consumers actually need a place for them to store their music, ringtones, and games online. In Europe, many mobile content companies are already selling games and ringtones on multimedia memory cards (MMC). Telcogames, for instance, offers a MMC card with its top selling games for 19.95 British pounds and there are no bandwidth or airtime charges through Carphone Warehouse, a mobile phone retailer. Rok Entertainment offers TV shows, ringtones, and video on MMC cards. Many of these cards come with hundreds of ringtones, wall papers, and graphics. Does this remind you of the CD multipacks that wiped out the retail consumer software business?With all of this storage available on MMC cards, I see very little room for Mobile Lockers to flourish. Mobile Lockers only make sense when the pricing of a single piece of mobile content remains very high, and it is costly to replace them when you switch to a new phone. When pricing of mobile content drops precipitously as it will when MMC cards become prevalent in the US, Mobile Lockers will no longer make sense as a business. After all, why store your content online when you can store it all on a tiny MMC card? The convenience of being able to take your content with you on an MMC card outweighs the advantages of a mobile locker.

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